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Mine were dancing!
I'll start by acknowledging that I don't really need to review the book itself: If On a Winter's Night a Traveler has long been one of my favorite books of all time. It continues to be one of the most original, inventive, delightful, thought-provoking pieces of literature I've ever encountered. It was my first Calvino book, and remains my favorite. The title caught my eye, in a bookstore, and when I opened the book to the table of contents and saw that the titled chapters formed their own tiny story of sorts, I just knew I had to read it. (And please, if you can, go look at a copy in a bookstore or library, or even online if you can find an electronic visual of the table of contents, because that is just one of the many sly, wonderful elements of this endlessly creative book that should be experienced, but really must be seen to be appreciated fully.)
But my excitement seeing this as the Daily Deal, and my irresistible dancing while listening to the first chapter (and oh, I was so nervous about the narration, but not to worry: it's marvelous!) have another source, as well. For many, many years, the first chapter of this book has been one of my top two Read-Aloud pieces to anyone who will sit still long enough to hear it. I've read it to groups of people, to individuals. It never fails to delight. And my very first time reading this book was done with my (now ex) husband: we took turns reading chapters to one another. So I have a long history with hearing this book read aloud, and it works so well. Having it in my permanent audio library, to hear at will, is a true delight.
Don't hesitate. It may not be like other books you've read (probably not); it definitely doesn't go in anything like a straight line. But the writing is sublime, the narration is lovely, and if you're a bibliophile of any degree, there are moments, passages, and whole chapters that will make you squee with delight. Go on, dodge past all those other books calling to you, get Italo Calvino's masterpiece, find a position or activity that satisfies you (this is audio, after all: you can listen in the dark, or while walking or even running--don't forget, the position of the feet during reading is of maximum importance--while baking a cake or cleaning out the garage...or even in bed!) and dive in. I suspect you won't regret.
140 of 149 people found this review helpful
As a reviewer stated--the fourth wall is completely and unutterably broken with If on a Winter's Night a Traveler. Because you, my dear friend, are absolutely necessary as a character of this book.
Calvino involves you from the get-go, and if you're a writer, you'll learn SO much about the craft and engaging your audience. He critiques his own style of writing, and what a tremendous use of words and phrases. He is obviously a skilled, skilled writer.
As with any literary novel, don't expect a lot of plot but do expect some pretty fantastic writing, that ability to drag you in and look at the edges of a book's binding with new eyes. There is a bit of a detective feel to it, though, that makes it rather fun, and things, after going all over the place, wind up neat and tidy, all in clever manner.
I did, however, have to listen at x1.25 speed because Jefferson Mays, while very good, gets rather pause-y, and he lingers over some of the phrasing.
I can't tell you if this is a book you'll want to listen to in one sitting -because- the chapters split themselves in two and then pick up back at the beginning and you don't want to fall behind. Or if you'll want to listen to this in pieces -because- the writing is so good, the words/phrasing so clever and you can savor things/learn a thing or two about how to work words.
But, hey! Who am I? Don't expect perfection; do expect some cutting here and there, some genre switching; a different kind of an experience...
109 of 119 people found this review helpful